Tuesday 21 October 2014

Facebook rejects privacy concerns

Published 05/04/2013 | 19:16

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg unveils what he called a new experience for Android phones (AP)
Mark Zuckerberg says the idea behind the Home service is to bring content right to you, rather than require you to check apps on the device (AP)

Facebook has rejected suggestions its new smartphone software could destroy privacy by tracking a user's every move.

The social networking giant showcased its latest venture Home amid much fanfare on Thursday night but industry experts immediately raised fears over its potential to gather masses of personal data.

Mark Zuckerberg's site later dismissed the claims and stressed Home was not a new means of collecting information.

It came after the software drew criticism over the presence of advertisements which pop up in mobile news feeds.

Om Malik, of technology website GigaOm, said Home would enable the social networking site to establish a user's address even when an individual had opted not to share such details with Facebook.

He said: "Facebook Home should put privacy advocates on alert, for this application erodes any idea of privacy. If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.

"The phone's GPS can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time. So if your phone doesn't move from a single location between the hours of 10pm and 6am for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home."

Natasha Lomas, of TechCrunch, said mobile users could "lose out" by adopting the new software which essentially makes Facebook the homescreen on phones which use Google's Android operating system.

She wrote: "The Facebookification of the mobile web is a threat to openness, to choice, to privacy - but only if you care about those things. Many people just care about chatting to their friends and want the path of least resistance to do that. So in the long run, Home could mean mobile users lose out - even if they don't know or care about what they're missing."

Opinions on the new software were divided following Thursday's launch but Facebook's latest foray into the mobile world was widely seen as a shrewd move for the company. Mark Little, principle analyst at research firm Ovum, said the enhanced app would give Facebook advertising "real estate".

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